Junta seizes KIO medicines as armed clashes loom

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Junta military security and police this morning seized a year’s supply of medicines from a Kachin rebel motorboat docked on the Irrawaddy River in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina, the boat’s skipper said.

The seizure comes amid heightened tensions between the ethnic peoples of the northern Burmese state led by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Burma’s ruling military junta, which is raising the ante over the KIO’s continued rejection of the order for it to bring its Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under junta command within the Border Guard Force (BGF) by September 1.

Adding to the strain, the KIA were gearing up for war on Friday while a majority of participants at a Kachin congress again rejected disarming despite a junta threat to end the ceasefire between the two sides, spokesmen said.

Analysts said the medicine seizures were designed to apply more pressure on the KIO.

Valued at an estimated 1.6 million kyat (about US$1,600), the drugs were confiscated by Military Affairs Security officials and officers from Police Station No.1 from the boat owned by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) as it was moored at Kuthu Pier at about 9 a.m., the skipper said.

Kachin Independence Army (KIA) doctor Yaw Han had bought the drugs from the Saunghayman pharmacy in Myitkyina for the clinic at Htainnan village in Putao District where the KIA’s 7th Battalion was based, he said.

“We used to carry rice, cooking oil, salt, medicine and food. I don’t know why they confiscated the medicines this time,” the skipper said on condition of anonymity. “The authorities also warned us that they would arrest the boat’s owner and skipper next time, if they found medicines were carried.”

Yaw Han told the authorities he and the villagers had difficulty getting to Myitkyina from the village, which was why he had bought enough medicines for a year. The Military Affairs Security officers and police replied that they had confiscated the medicines in accord with orders from their superiors – that the Kachin were banned from carrying any medicine or food (on the river).

The confiscated medicines locked up at Myitkyina Police Station No. 1. The authorities told the KIO that they would return the medicines only if they received orders to that effect, sources said.

KIO leaders asked the junta why the medicines had been confiscated, but the junta had failed to reply.

Mizoram capital deports Burmese, NGO workers

New Delhi (Mizzima) – A total of more than 60 migrants and NGO workers were returned to Burma today from the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, amid a random crackdown on illegal migrants, witnesses said.

Burmese workers from clothing factories in many wards, including Ramhlun South and Ramthar in the state capital of Aizawl were arrested on Saturday for immigration law violations. The city’s district court on Sunday ordered their return and officials took those detained to the Tio River, which forms part of the Indo-Burmese border.

“In some wards, Burmese women were arrested. But in ours, women and those with children were not … they [police] arrested only men, some of whom had arrived here only a few months ago,” Aizawl clothing factory worker Khin Maung Oo said.

“Some had already been arrested under the immigration law. The police said that they were reluctant to arrest the migrants and that they were acting only on the orders of their superior officers,” he said.

A Burmese citizen who observed the court proceedings told Mizzima that two leaders and 28 students of the Chin National Council, and members of the Free Burma Rangers, a Thailand-based humanitarian group that rescues victims of junta attacks on ethnic minority villages, were also among those detained and sent back to Burma.

Other sources said reports of the Free Burma Rangers’ arrests were unconfirmed.

An Aizawl rights activist gave a different total of those detained. “Twenty-eight workers were arrested under the immigration act. Two of them are women.”

The court witness said: “Burmese migrants were arrested under the immigration act because they didn’t have documents that permitted their stay.”

Mizzima contacted the Aizawl Police Station and an officer said to address inquiries to the ward-level police stations. An officer at Bawngkawn Police Station confirmed that some illegal migrants were arrested for violating immigration laws but declined to provide details.

In the past, people detained under immigration laws were sentenced to jail for about six months, but employers or relatives could have them released on bail. Now regulations are tighter, so the illegal migrants are being refused bail.

Most of the 50,000 Burmese migrant workers in Mizoram are without visas, leaving them vulnerable to arrest.

Burmese in the state predicted more arrests in light of the increasing frequency of police patrols. Some illegal migrants have fled to the jungle to hide amid growing concerns they would face arrest.

“The arrests may be the result of drug-related and other crimes committed by Burmese people. In the past, when there were many crimes committed by Burmese illegal workers, crackdowns on migrants were launched”, a Burmese worker told Mizzima.

According to the Aizawl narcotics squad, about 60 drug-related crimes were committed this year by Burmese citizens in the city.

The thousands of Burmese migrants in Mizoram work in businesses including goldsmiths’ shops, car-care service centres, restaurants, clothing factories, and in sales and road construction.

Nobel Women’s Initiative To Host Panel Discussion On Burma And The Media

On September 16, the Nobel Women’s Initiative and the Paley Center for Media will host “Burma and the Media: Amplifying Voices for Democracy” in New York City. This panel discussion–featuring Nobel Laureates, Burmese and international journalists, documentary filmmakers and Paley Center President and CEO Pat Mitchell–will examine how global and social media are transforming Burma’s democracy movement.

The Burmese regime’s violent abuse of its own people–ranging from the imprisonment and torture of political dissenters to systematic sexual violence and rape against women and girls–puts it in the ranks of some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. But, as the list of human rights abuses grows, so do the calls from within Burma for peace, justice, and democracy. These calls are building global momentum, as global and social media bring the world previously untold stories from within Burma.

Please join us at the Paley Center for Media in New York City from 7 to 8:30 pm on September 16, 2010.

The evening will also premiere a short documentary on the recent International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma, an unprecedented event held in March in New York and witnessed on the internet by people around the globe.

ASEAN-UN ESCAP Joint Press Release — ASEAN – UN ESCAP Convene a Post-Nargis Lessons Learning Conference

ASEAN, with the support of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UN ESCAP), will convene a Post-Nargis Lessons Learning Conference on Monday, 30 August 2010, in Bangkok.

The conference, with the theme of “Institutionalising Good Practices, Strengthening Partnership“, aims to incorporate the good practices of ASEAN’s post-Nargis experience in Myanmar into regional disaster management mechanisms and strengthen regional partnerships in disaster management based on the experience learnt.

Apart from the sharing of lessons and good practices in managing the post-Nargis relief and recovery effort, the conference is also expected to examine ways to institutionalise those good practices into the regional disaster management mechanisms. The ASEAN-UN partnership in disaster management based on their cooperation in the post-Nargis effort will also be discussed.

“Cyclone Nargis provided an opportunity for ASEAN to challenge its collective response to a major disaster in a Member State. It was the first time that the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) was tested in a real post-disaster situation. It is now time to capitalise on the experience and disseminate the lessons that ASEAN has learned in the wake of Nargis to strengthen our disaster preparedness,” said the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan.

During the conference, ASEAN will also launch a series of six publications assessing its experience in carrying out the first-ever large-scale humanitarian operation in the region.

Cyclone Nargis struck Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, killing 140,000 people and severely affecting the lives of more than 2.4 million people in the delta. ASEAN was asked to step in to facilitate the flow of international assistance in the aftermath of the cyclone, under the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) mechanism, which also comprises the Government of Myanmar and the United Nations. The mandate of the ASEAN-led coordination ended at the end of July 2010, and the coordination mechanism for continued coordination has been handed over to the Government of Myanmar.

“With the Government of Myanmar taking over medium and long term recovery efforts, the role of the TCG has officially ended,” said Dr Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP). “However, the spirit of cooperation among the UN, ASEAN and the Government of Myanmar should endure in further support to the country in its rebuilding and in its national development efforts.”

The conference, to be at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok from 0900 hours to 1400 hours, will be attended by high-level representatives from the ASEAN Member States, the United Nations, Dialogue Partners, countries that have provided assistance to the post-Nargis efforts, non-government organisations and other stakeholders.


ASEAN SG Thanks Friends and Partners for Post-Nargis Support

ASEAN Secretariat, 27 August 2010

The Secretary-General of ASEAN has personally written to the many countries that have contributed to the ASEAN-led post-Cyclone Nargis efforts to convey his deep appreciation for their support.

In separate letters to his counterparts, Dr Surin Pitsuwan wrote that the contribution has assisted ASEAN in addressing the critical needs of the livelihood, wash, shelter and health activities of the Cyclone Nargis survivors. Their timely contribution reached the Cyclone affected people while assistances are greatly needed, wrote Dr Surin in his letters.

More than USD 600 million came from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Norway, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The amount also included contributions from Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland.

Under the ASEAN-led mechanism, the fund has been utilised to benefit some 623,000 children from educational humanitarian response, and 575,000 children have received essential learning material packs. It also led to 356 multi-purpose building cum-cyclone shelters being built and 3,800 ponds constructed. In addition, more than 1.5 million people received agriculture support, 172,960 fishing gears distributed and 422 health facilities have been rehabilitated.

Cyclone Nargis struck Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, killing 140,000 people and severely affecting the lives of more than 2.4 million people in the delta. ASEAN was asked to step in to facilitate the flow of international assistance in the aftermath of the cyclone. The mandate of the ASEAN-led coordination ended at the end of July 2010, and the coordination mechanism for continued coordination has been handed over to the Government of Myanmar.

3 Female Students Remain Under House Arrest in Sittwe

Sittwe: Three female Arakanese students who were taken into custody by authorities at the Mahamuni Buddha Vihara orphanage on 27 July, 2010, remain in detention at a police home, said a family source.

18-year-old Pyu Pyu Win, 16-year-old Hla Thein Khaing, and 16-year-old Hla Than New have been detained by authorities in Sittwe since 27 July, 2010. The girls had been completing their education at the Mahamuni Buddha Vihara orphanage.

A family member said, “We had a chance to meet them at the police link, but were unable to bring them to their family who are living in rural villages in Arakan State. They have been detained by authorities since Ashion Pyinya Sara was arrested by authorities on 27 July.”

The authorities took the girls along with over 100 orphans from Mahamuni Buddha Vihara to the police station a day after arresting the abbot of the orphanage, which was soon sealed off.

Authorities first detained the three girls at the No. 1 police station along with the orphans, but later moved them to a police line located in Rupa Ward in Sittwe.

“The authority moved over 100 orphans to Burma proper, particularly Mandalay and Magwe Division, but has kept the three girls in Sittwe. We do not know the reason behind the authorities keeping them under house arrest in Sittwe up to now,” the source said.

Pyu Pyu Win is the daughter of U Sein Shwe Aung from Kyin Chaung Village in Minbya Township, while Aye Thein Khaing is the daughter of U Aung Kyaw Thaung from Own Padi Village in Kyauk Taw Township. Ma Than New has no parents and her address is unknown.

The parents of Pyu Pyu Win and Aye Thein Khaing came to Sittwe to take their daughters, but the authorities have not allowed them to take their daughters anywhere.

The girls were studying as high school level students at the Mahamuni Buddha Vihara orphanage, which was organized and established by Ashion Pyinya Sara. The authority arrested the monk on several accusations on 27 July. Since then the girls have been kept under house arrest without any explanation.

U Pyinya Sara is now being detained at the Sittwe prison and authorities have filed seven charges against him. Among them is one serious charge of disrupting the stability of the state.
narinjara news

KPC to be outlawed if it rejects BGF

The Burmese military junta has threatened the Karen Peace Council (KPC) that if it does not transform to the Border Guard Force (BGF) within a week, it will declare the outfit illegal.

The KPC is located in Hto Kawkoo village in Kawkareik Township, Karen state. It is led by Gen. Htin Maung.

Lt. Gen. Ye Myint, chief of Military Affairs Security (MAS) and Brigadier Gen. Thet Naing Win, commander of southeastern military command met KPC delegates at the southeastern military command headquarter in Mawlamying in Mon State on 24 August, Brig. Gen. Dr. Saw Ti Mathay, in-charge of KPC’s foreign affairs, said.

“On 24 August, the junta summoned Gen. Htin Maung for a meeting but he didn’t go. His deputies went to attend the meeting. At the meeting Ye Myint and Thet Naing Win threatened them that if they did not transform to the BGF within a week or 10 days, the organization would be termed illegal and the Burmese Army will be deployed around its area,” he added.

Gen Htin Maung has rejected the BGF proposal and if the regime goes for a military offensive against the KPC, it is ready to respond by military means, Gen Dr. Saw Ti Mathay said.

The KPC led by Gen. Htin Maung rejected transforming into BGF as of 20 October last year. Again, he also rejected transformation to a people’s militia group on 7 April this year at a meeting in southeastern military headquarter in Mawlamyaing city.

The KPC sent a letter to Lt. Gen. Ye Myint, chief of MAS, where it mentioned that the Karen Peace Council wants peace and development and not armed hostility.

“The junta ordered them to surrender to the Burmese Army. Transforming to BGF means that they will have to fight other ethnic armed revolutionary groups. People want genuine peace but the military regime will never solve problems in a peaceful manner,” Pha Doh Saw David Thakapaul, vice-president of KNU, said.

Similarly, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) delegates met Gen. Thet Naing Win at the southeastern military command office in Mawlamyaing city on August 23. Gen Thet Naing Win threatened NMSP that if it failed to give a clear answer on transforming to BGF, it will face hostilities like before 1995, Nai Chay Mon, a spokesperson of NMSP told KIC.

There are 17 armed ethnic groups, which signed ceasefire agreements since 1989. The military regime started applying pressures on ceasefire groups for transforming to BGF since April 2009.

The New Democracy Army – Kachin (NDA-K), Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF) in Kayah state special region 2, Ko Kant special region 1, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), Hong Tharaw special region, and Karen Peace Force (KPF) have already transformed into BGF but the other armed groups are still rejecting changing to BGF.

The KPC split from KNU on 11 February 2007. After that, KPC used the nomenclature KNU-KNLA when it signed a ceasefire agreement with the junta.

KIC news

KIO cannot toe junta’s line for KSPP’s sake

To Burma’s ethnic Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) its five-decade-long revolutionary fervour is dearer than the interests of the Kachin State Progressive Party (KSPP), whose approval is hinging on the KIO’s armed-wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) surrendering its weapons, said KIO sources.

The KSPP is yet to be approved by the Burmese military junta-controlled Election Commission on the belief that it has tenuous links with the KIO, which rejected transforming to the junta-proposed Border Guard Force (BGF) on April 22, said a senior party leader today.

If approved, KSPP will be the arch-rival of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The KSPP is led by retired senior KIO officials.

Dr. Manam Tu Ja, retired KIO Vice-President No. 2 told Thailand-based Kachin News Group, that approval for the party was totally dependent on the KIO’s decision to be disarmed.

The KIO debated the issue at the August 27 to 29 KIO Party Congress in Laiza capital on the China-Burma border, northern Burma. A statement is expected to be released on it tomorrow, August 31, said Wawhkyung Sin Wa, Deputy General Secretary of KIO in Laiza.

“For the sake of KSPP’s approval by the Election Commission, we cannot give up our armed struggle for liberation of the Kachin people in military-ruled Burma,” a KIO official in Laiza said.

A compromise is not possible given that the KSPP was set up just over a year ago while the KIO’s armed struggle for self-determination of Kachin people is over five-decades old, added KIO officials.

From a political stand point, the KIO backed the forming of the KSPP to represent Kachin people in Kachin State and the Northern Shan State Progressive Party (NSPP) for representing Kachin people in Shan State to contest the 2010 elections on November 7.

The United Democracy Party, another Kachin party in Kachin State was floated by Layawk Ze Lum, former General Secretary of New Democracy Army-Kachin (NDA-K), which transformed to the junta-proposed BGF last November. It also registered to contest the elections.

No Kachin political party was approved by the EC except the Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State (UDPKS) which was formed by Kachin party members of the junta-backed USDP as a ploy to win over Kachin voters.

The KIO is the second largest ethnic armed group with over 20,000 troops including regular and reserved troops in Burma after United Wa State Army (UWSA). It is the last remaining Kachin armed group, which has rejected the junta-proposed BGF and its orders to disarm.

The KIO feels that the junta it should not consider a surrender of weapons proposal before resolving the political imbroglio between them.

Kachin News

1000 oil workers protesting against alleged duping by an oil company

Up to 1000 oil workers protesting against alleged duping by an oil company in northwestern Burma last week were attacked by riot police, with two left seriously injured.

The protests had been going on since 14 August when workers at the Cherry Yoma oilfield close to Sagaing division’s Kalay township complained they were being ripped off by the company, whose name has not been revealed.

Both riot police and company-run security were called by the company’s owner on 25 August to disperse the crowd.

“The company’s security arrived at the site and started attacking the protesters apparently to discourage more people from joining them,” said a Kalay local. “The protesters were punched, kicked and beaten up with sticks.

“Two people had their eyes badly injured and also went deaf. The protesters and their leaders fled the scene and their camps and belongings were destroyed.” Continue reading “1000 oil workers protesting against alleged duping by an oil company”